How it’s made
Carmina, the shoemaker, based on the island of Mallorca, has been making Goodyear welted shoes since 1866. The brand was ‘revamped’ and relaunched about twenty years ago and has since then become well-established within the menswear scene. Carmina’s creations have a slender curviness, distinct from the slightly more chunky style of traditional English shoes, yet not slick enough to be Italian. This is a formula that has proven to be a real sweet-spot for many footwear enthusiasts all over the world.
When speaking of quality shoe production, the cognoscenti in the past have referred to Northampton, England, parts of Italy and France as the principal sources. Over the years, however, our understanding of where good shoes are made has come to include new countries as well. The social media era, along with increasing globalisation, has shed some light on new producers across the globe. One of those countries is Spain and the chief reason is Carmina.
The Carmina way focuses on 11 steps to complete a shoe; each step is made up of several smaller ones so that in total a shoe goes through 220 processes to become a class A Goodyear welted shoe.
The first few steps involve the ‘last’ which is made from a wooden mould which creates the fit of the shoe.
The ‘last’ is a solid form made from hardwood and it is around this rigid block that a shoe takes its first shape. The last has, therefore, a shape similar to that of an average foot. Its purpose is not only to ensure that a shoe fits, but also to provide a template for design elements.
Carmina has several lasts from which to select; we have listed our top three.
The Forest is Carmina’s earliest and most archetypal last. With its classic and timeless design, this last seems to resist the course of time as demonstrated by the fact that, 15 years after it was released, it is still one of the most popular. It has a rounded toe, regular instep and more room across the forepart. Available at Baltzar in standard EE width.
The Simpson is modelled on the Rain. It has an elongated forepart and a fine squared-off toe. The fitting is slightly narrower around the toe compared to the Rain. This last is usually the best choice for more elegant models, and it is often made with a plain leather sole. We offer the Simpson in a narrower E width.
The Rain is Carmina’s most versatile and popular lasts. With a subtle squared-off toe and regular fitting both in the instep and toe area, its proportions make it ideal for casual models with an elegant look. This last is usually manufactured with a double leather sole. At Baltzar all Rain lasts are made in a standard EE width.
Carmina uses meticulously selected materials from the best sources. Hides are stored at a constant temperature to ensure the right texture for cutting. Carmina specialises in the treatment of shell cordovan leather, a highly prized animal skin of exquisite quality.
Cutting is always done by hand, piece by piece, pair by pair. Later, the pieces are evened out in bulk to guarantee a perfect assembly and stitch.
All pieces, including the lining and reinforcements, are carefully sewn together with thread made of cotton and acrylic to ensure that the backstitch is as tight as possible. This, in turn, guarantees long-lasting quality.
All Carmina shoes are carefully manufactured with the same techniques established by Charles Goodyear in 1869. Goodyear welting is one of the more labour-intensive and skill demanding shoemaking methods. The result, however, is the production of a more durable shoe. What is a Goodyear welt and what are its advantages? A Goodyear welted shoe consists of a sole in which all the layers, including the outer material, the inner and outer sole and everything in between is sewed together by a welt stitch to create superior durability and the ability to access each individual layer for restoration. And there are other benefits too!
Key Goodyear Welt Benefits
Design: The unique stitching technique along the edge of the sole of the shoe is also a significant design element: quality is beautiful.
Strength: Goodyear stitching enhances the strength of the shoe by ensuring that the sole, insole, upper and welt are well joined together.
Comfort: The mid-sole is filled with cork instead of foam which improves comfort, enhances ergonomics and increases breathability.
Durability: All the different parts of a Goodyear welted shoe can be replaced individually without impacting the rest of the shoe’s structure.
Formal shoes can broadly be divided between those with closed and those with open lacing, or Oxford and Derby. The Oxford shoe, which dates back to the eighteenth century, has closed lacing: the two sides of the upper are sewn to the vamp, or the front part of the shoe, and drawn together by laces. The Derby, also known as Blücher, has shoelace eyelets attached on the outside of the vamp as two flaps. The Derby is the less formal and is often made with a rough sole and outside welt, or Norwegian stitching.
The cap toe is, without a doubt, the most common and timeless classic Oxford shoe style. The distinguishing feature is the extra piece of leather, the so-called toe cap, that is added to the toe box. The most traditional version is the black cap toe.
What distinguishes a wholecut Oxford is how the leather is cut: a single piece of leather is stitched on top of the sole. A wholecut Oxford has closed lacing which, together with the single piece construction, presents a clean appearance.
Broguing is a way of decorating shoes using perforations. The level of decoration determines whether the shoe is a semi or full brogue. A distinctive sign of a full brogue is the curved toecap, also referred to as wingtip.
The split toe Derby is a model that has become more popular in recent years; it has a so-called apron and a vertical stitch at the tip of the toe. The purpose of the model was originally to achieve better water protecting capabilities.
In contrast to lace-ups, slip-on shoes, without laces, include loafers and moccasins. Loafers are one of the most appreciated shoes for men worldwide and have long been accepted as a classic. They come in various shapes and levels of formality depending on how low the instep and the quarter are cut, as well as the material. Loafers also look good in colours and exotic leathers which has encouraged makers to innovate.
Loafers have been around for ages, originating from the moccasins of native Americans and the various welt-stitched loafers or slippers of European aristocracy. They gained ground because of the simplicity of not having to tie laces, as well as being softer and sometimes more comfortable than classic lace-up shoes.
The penny loafer finds its roots long before the name penny came into the picture. American shoe producer G.H. Bass of Wilton in 1936 made a take on the Norwegian Aurland moccasin and called it the ‘Weejun’. The model featured a diamond shaped strap across the vamp. The Weejun loafer became an immense success and started to appear at Ivy League universities where students adopted the practice of putting a penny under the cross leather strap for increased swag and good luck and to pay for phone calls, which at that time were two pennies.
Penny loafers are often combined with summer suits or jeans and chinos and a polo. In the UK, penny loafers are acceptable to wear with a dark suit.
According to legend the first tassel loafer was commissioned by actor Paul Lukas through Brooks Brothers New York and made by legendary shoemaker Alden. The laces of his Oxfords had curled up after being worn-out; he took a liking to this worn-out look and accordingly gave instructions to have a pair made. The rest is as we say history and the tassel loafer remains an immortal classic and a key piece for young sartorialists as well as retired CEO’s.
The tassel is considered a casual shoe. Wear them with bare ankles, or with shorts, or with your trashed jeans on a hungover Sunday brunch. When it comes to wearing them with a suit, a degree of finesse needs to be applied.
Carmina Size Guide
Eyelets: the holes on the flap that the laces go through
Flap: above the vamp, holds the eyelets for the laces and covers the tongue.
Heel Cap: on the outside of the quarter, around the heel, giving the shoe strength and structure.
Lining: fabric that covers the inside of the shoes.
Quarter: the centre to back section below the ankle, on both sides of the shoe and around the heel.
The Insole: the sole, on the inside, on which you rest your feet.
The Outsole/Sole: the sole, on the outside, with which your shoes touches the ground.
Toe Cap: on the outside of the vamp, covers the toes, giving the shoe strength and structure.
Tongue: covers the top of the foot and protects it from the laces.
Top Line/Collar: the often cushioned egde of the quarter where the foot is inserted.
Upper: everything from the the sole and up is considered the upper.
Vamp: the center to front section between the quarter and toecap, covers the foot.
Welt: the part that fixates the upper, insole and outsole, through stitching, to each other.